Mixing established practices with democratic ideals: New COA chief boards the CPA jeepney

By Adelle Chua

The new chairman of the Commission on Audit has boarded the Citizen Participatory Audit vehicle, declaring his support to the project at the photo and video exhibit during the COA week celebration.

Former Palace deputy executive secretary, lawyer and now COA chairman Atty. Michael Aguinaldo said that the CPA, which brings together state auditors and civil society organizations in a joint value-for-money audit of select government projects, said that project has gained ground with CSOs and concerned citizens responding well to the challenge of constructively engaging with the government.
“This is amazing because people from various disciplines are still able to work together,” he said, adding that the direction is for CPA to be integrated as a regular program into the commission. 

The CPA is currently on its second phase, focusing on farm-to-market roads in Palawan province and tourism roads in the Caraga region. It main audit tool is geotagging -- the use of point coordinates to determine whether the infrastructure was constructed according to design.

“As we know, the reports that we have been hearing about FMRs are not very flattering,” he said.

Aguinaldo thanked the assistance of the DFAT and cited the leadership of his immediate predecessor, Atty. Maria Gracia Pulido Tan, under whose term the CPA was planned, launched and recognized abroad through the Bright Spots Award of the Open Government Partnership. The pilot phase of CPA was also completed under Mrs. Pulido Tan’s term. 

According to Aguinaldo, the CPA is testament that “a lot can be accomplished even by those who do not always agree.” One of the learnings during the first phase of the project was that the COA and citizen groups have different perceptions and approaches that may hinder their effective cooperation.
These hindrances, however, were overcome by the commitment of both sides to work together.

“It’s a continuing journey,” Aguinaldo said, “as we mix established processes [of auditing]with democratic ideals [citizen participation]”.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time,” the new chairman added. “I look forward to riding this jeepney with you.”

The CPA is undertaken by the COA in partnership with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian government.
CPA was first undertaken, several years ago, by the United Nations Development Programme. The Commission partnered with the Concerned Citizens for Justice and Development, a civil society organization based in Abra. 

The Commission partnered with the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government, a civil society organization.